I’ve always liked slightly overexposed photos, one where majority of the details can be seen. However, this year, it seems that I’ve taken a liking to darker and moodier photos. This picture is one of those photos. A very simple picture of the roof of the charming chapel on top of a hill in Batanes. A very simple photo processed to look more dramatic.
Oh, and I’m missing travelling already.
Last month, two friends of ours got married in a small and intimate wedding. We were invited as photographers and this was my first time to shoot a wedding this way. Having several camera systems (Canon, m4/3 and Fuji), I made a decision which camera to use based on only 1 criterion, flash. My Olympus EM5 and Fuji XE1 both have flash but they are small and not powerful. I also have three external speedlights but two are manual and the other only has TTL with Canon. Hence, it was Canon 7D + 15-85mm, 50mm 1.4 and the EOS with 22mm as additional camera.
For most of the events, I used the 15-85mm with the Nissin flash (with mini softbox/flash diffuser) mounted on the camera. I could use the 50mm for better image quality (especially in low light) but I’ll have to be changing lenses for wider shots and in fast-paced events, I’m not comfortable doing this. Eman was also there shooting but since he’s using the Samyang 85mm, there are some shots that he cannot take. Oyet also took some pictures using the Pentax K01.
The wedding was done in a resort in Batangas (beautiful place). It was on a garden near the pool (good thing since there was still light from the afternoon sun compared to a dimly lit church).
Anyway, the pictures of the ceremony and wedding preparations turned out well (well enough that I believe they came out much better than some people I know who’ve hired totally amateur photographers with a consumer DSLR + kit lens to cover their weddings).
The bride with their baby daughter (such an angel, didn’t cry the whole time we were there) * The bride and groom on the stairs of one of the villas before the wedding.
The bride and groom.
The wedding ceremony being presided by a Justice of Peace
Family and close friends.
There is a challenge ongoing in facebook to post 5 black and white photos over 5 consecutive days. Basically, you get nominated and post 1 B&W photo per day for 5 consecutive days. I was nominated and though I don’t enjoy these types of facebook challenges, this one cost me nothing and I get to see some works that are buried in my other facebook albums.
Now I like black and white. I believe that without the distraction of color, the quality of light and composition becomes much more important than ever. Also, some high ISO shots where there are color noise looks much better (and cleaner) in black and white. However, I know that not all photos are meant to be black and white. I shoot and process mostly color and convert only to black and white when the image screams to be presented in black and white (great light or great tonal range or too many distracting color). In short, color is my default and black and white photos are somewhat rare and special.
Now I’ve made several black and white photos over the three years I’ve been serious about photography. However, for this challenge, I don’t want to present just a black and white image. It has to be a special B&W image and in the posts, I explained why I think they look better in B&W and the post processing I did to make them that way. Without further ado, here are my five picks for this challenge.
This low-key black and white photo of a beautiful little girl was shot about a year ago in a wedding. I know it wasn’t the first b&w photo I made but maybe the first one I’m satisfied with. I’ve always been amazed by high-contrast and low-key b&w and after use of Lightroom’s graduated filters, contrast and sharpening sliders and several brushes, this is the first one I made that I’m proud of. (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)
Just in time for Halloween, this photo is of a good friend (Elaine) playing the roll of Sadako. Taken at bright afternoon sunlight in Fort Santiago, this is heavily darkened with clarity added to heighten the atmosphere of horror (though she is smiling). (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)
One of my most favorite shot of Batanes. This was taken in Valugan Beach on the main island of Batan. The beach has big boulders and strong waves which makes swimming next to impossible. In the picture is Ellidel taking a picture. After moving several sliders and even messing with brushes and levels in Lightroom, finally got the picture to my liking. (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)
A very simple black and white photo of boatmen and their dog while docked. No fancy post processing, just simple cropping, shadow, highlight, contrast and clarity adjustments. Some pictures are just meant for b&w. (Fuji XE1+18-55)
Another very simple vignette. This one of the cashier/staff of Casa Rap. Instead of a clutter of colors from the cluttered surroundings, it’s just rich grays with some blacks. (Canon EOS M+22mm)
I believe I completely nailed the challenge (except for a gap in daily posting due to my coming home to the province for the November 1 holiday). I enjoyed it so much that I’m thinking of doing additional shares of some more images from my previous albums – pictures buried among tens or hundreds of photos in albums, those that deserve better attention than they got.
Salibungot Beach in Jomalig, Quezon is one of the finest beaches I’ve been in. The beach itself is wide with golden brown sand. I would have taken more pictures of this beach but when we arrived there, I was already tired and just wanted to go back to our camp.
Tiñan Viewpoint is a hill near the Sabtang Road overlooking the sea. For me, it is the best viewpoint in the whole of Batanes. It is located very near the village of Chavayan and is marked by an arch (probably as a boundary between Chavayan and Savidug).
One of the places to visit in Batanes when you’re in Sabtang Island is Morong Beach. Most of the tours in Sabtang stop in Morong Beach as this is where lunch is served. The beach (has whitish sand) seems to be the best in the whole of Batanes. It is also home to Nakabuang Arch.
We’ve stayed for 5 days and 5 nights in Batanes but I can’t say I’m very pleased with my pictures (especially landscape pictures). Since we did our trips and tours during the day, we always arrive on picturesque location when the sun is high and the light is already harsh.
In the case of Nakabuang Arch, we were there at noon so it is not the ideal time for shooting pictures. I’m sure it looks very good at sunrise (the beach faces the east).
Last weekend (and for three more days after that), I was in Batanes – my second time there. Whereas my first time there (with family) is quite short, this time, I (along with my friends) had a long (and lazy) time in the northernmost province. I’ll post other pictures in the coming days but I’d like to have this one first.
This one was taken in the Radiwan (Ivana) port. The port is in front of the church and there are unused (mostly broken) boats in the port. This one had the name Batanes on it and I took a picture of it (with other boats and the church in the background). On looking at the raw picture in my desktop, it was a big disappointment. What I envision the picture to be was very far from what appeared. Luckily, Lightroom 5 is a very very good tool for post-processing pictures (especially with the addition of the radial filter). After setting contrast, tweaking of exposure and color, I added a radial filter on the back of the boat (with word Batanes). I then darkened and reduced the saturation of everything outside the circle. Furthermore, I used a brush to increase clarity, sharpness and contrast around the word Batanes.
The result is below – pretty much what I envisioned when I took the photograph. The only other way I could have made what I envisioned is if I have a fast wide angle lens (equivalent of 24mm f1.4 on full frame) to blur the background but my lens was 15-85mm 3.5-5.6.
This one came from an uninteresting photo of a cotton tree on an overblown sky as background. Inverting the colors and desaturating the remaining colors (some cyan) results in some graphic silhouette, something which I think will look good as an accent in a black wall.
Gaspar Island is one of the three islands collectively known as “Tres Reyes” (Three Kings), the other two being Melchor and Baltazar (three kings who visited Jesus in Bethlehem). Of the three islands, Gaspar is the biggest and the only one with a community. All three islands are rocky (rock cliffs) and the community in the island lives in the only beach wide enough to accommodate houses.
As I said in my previous post, the island is beautiful – very clear waters and very good for snorkeling but not very good for taking pictures (unless underwater). The beach is fine but no particular foreground item to anchor a landscape photo. Here are the very few “good” pictures I took in the island.
A boatman. The photo was auto-exposed for the sea but in editing, I found that the clouds are more interesting, so I pulled back the highlights through a graduated filter and used Nik’s Color Efex for detail extraction. The result is one where visible vertical banding is obvious but a more interest photo without the clouds.
Three Kids Playing. These are kids from the community who are living in the island. Shot with the Canon 15-85 and not very very sharp. I had to dial up both clarity and contrast to make it better.
This is a stretch of sand jutting out to sea. The community living there are mostly fisherfolk, hence, the boats.
This is the beach where we camped. I’m not particularly fond of the picture as it has that almost-garish HDR look (through detail extractor, pull back of highlights, graduated filter) but I think it was a necessity considering that the clouds are the most interest part of the pictures.
As for the beach, it was made of mostly dead corals and seashells and a little painful to walk on barefooted.
For this trip, I brought the 7D and 15-85, 10-22 and 50mm 1.4. I did not bother changing lenses as I was not inspired by the landscape. Also, the Canon 15-85mm seems to be not as sharp as before. Pictures don’t seem to have the same amount of details as before. I’m not sure if the lens elements moved or the camera’s AF has misaligned or I’m seeing better pictures with the Olympus OM-D.
Anyway, Eman had better luck using his Nikon D5200 and Samyang 8mm fisheye (wonderful wonderful lens).
Our beach camp at night * The clear waters around the island.
This was taken in Lucena Pier. The boys are there to beg for coins. You throw the coins into the water and they will catch it or dive for it. Probably the same sight can be found in most of the piers here in the Philippines.